Fall Vibes - Five Fall Garden Tasks
The crisp mornings and dreary afternoons that happened early this week had me wanting to be inside with a good book and some tea, but it’s time for the last big push of the season! Here’s five things to keep in mind as we transition to fall.
STORING YOUR HARVEST
The blissful days of August are behind us, but the abundant harvest of that season lingers on. I love this time of year when summer crops like tomatoes and peppers butt up against fall crops like garlic and winter squash. With all this abundance, it’s time to can, pickle, store, and freeze!
Garden Cit Harvest’s Fall Veggie Sale is coming up October 17, so make some room for those goodies!
TENDING WHATS GROWING
Although I love fried green tomatoes, I’m hoping the green ones on the vine can ripen before the first frosts. Now is a great time to nip tomato flowers so the plant focuses on ripening the existing fruits instead of producing new ones.
I’ve also covered some of my tender crops like peppers and young fall spinach and radishes with remay to give them an extra boost.
(Side note: cooler temperatures of fall bring changes, including white mold (pictured left). We’ve got some on our summer squash in Providence, and it looks like our squash is trying a new Halloween costume (ghost, perhaps?). Luckily, it usually doesn’t kill the plant.
WATCHING THE WEATHER
Now is a great time to set up a weather alert for any frosts. The average first frost in Missoula is September 27th, but it’s important to remember that’s an average. Emily wrote a great blog about preparing for frost, check it out here.
CLOSING DOWN THE GARDEN & WINTERIZING
Listed below are a few of the things I’m doing to close down the Providence Garden, but all community gardeners should check out the complete Closing Day Checklist for a list of what is expected before Closing Day on October 20th.
Weeding. When the rain lifts and the sun comes out again, it’s the perfect weather and perfect time to deep weed. Doing a thorough weeding now should carry you through the season, and help keep the weeds down next year.
Mulching. Covering the soil with straw or leaves helps keep the weeds down, improves soil moisture retention, and reduces erosion.
Removing old crops. Once the plants are no longer producing, I pull them out and compost them, or I chop the plant matter into the bed with a shovel to help build the soil’s organic matter. (Pro Tip: Take the fallen leaves from your backyard, ones without pesticides or herbicides, and chop these into your garden bed too).
Turning the compost. Fall is a great time to tend to the home compost bin. Incorporating some of the finished compost in the garden is great, and don’t forget to turn the unfinished compost
REFLECTION & PLANNING
Now is the time to make notes on the season before the long winter ahead erases them from memory. What varieties did you plant, and did you like them? Did any plants do exceptionally well, or are some maybe not worth planting again? Also it’s a great time to double check garden maps and make sure they are an accurate reflection of the season.
The notes of what did well and what didn’t should help inform a plan for next year. Though next spring feels far off, there are some things you can do now. Planting garlic is probably the most exciting! Collecting and saving seeds is a big one, too. At Providence, our lettuce plants are finally ready for seed collecting.
More than anything, this time of year is a bitter sweet goodbye to the days of summer. Hope you all are enjoying this transition time!